Netflix Inc. reached another financial milestone at the end of 2019. The streaming giant’s latest earnings report revealed the company generated more than US$20 billion in annual revenue for the first time.

That means it took Netflix, which was founded in 1997, 22 years to reach the US$20-billion mark. By comparison, The Walt Disney Co. was in business for 74 years before it generated the same level of revenue (72 years if you adjust the numbers for inflation).

Netflix ended its fourth quarter with 167.1 million total paying subscribers, up from 139.3 million in the same period a year earlier.

While Netflix had to navigate streaming service launches from Disney and Apple Inc. in the final months of 2019, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan said in a research note that Netflix was helped by a “blockbuster content slate,” which included a “strong lineup of hit shows such as The Crown and You.”

Netflix’s quarterly results capped off a decade during which it reshaped the media landscape. The company added more than 150 million global subscribers during that 10-year stretch, prompting a slew of media rivals to enter the streaming market. Along with Apple and Disney, the growing list of Netflix alternatives includes WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock. In Canada, BCE Inc.’s Bell Media operates Crave (BNN Bloomberg is also a division of Bell Media).

Netflix also shifted from being a buyer of existing Hollywood films and TV shows to becoming one of the most prolific content producers in the world. The company recently led all studios in Oscar nominations with 24 nods, thanks to films such as Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

The rise of Netflix was easily one of Wall Street’s standout stories during the decade. The company’s stock rose more than any other company on the S&P 500, climbing more than 4,000 per cent, which boosted its market value by roughly US$140 billion.

Given its surge, Netflix is no longer the underdog.  While most Wall Street analysts remain optimistic on the company’s outlook, Netflix needs its subscriber base to keep growing to offset its big spending bill. 

Netflix’s budget for original content is expected to reach nearly US$19 billion this year, compared to US$8.5 billion for Amazon Studios, US$6 billion for Apple TV+ and US$2.5 billion for Disney Plus.


Netflix in Awards Season

The Irishman  10 Oscar nominations incl. Best Picture 
5 Golden Globes nominations; 0 wins
4 Screen Actors Guild nominations; 0 wins
14 Critics' Choice nominations; 1 win
Writers Guild, Producers Guild, Directors Guild nominations
10 British Film Award (BAFTA) noms incl. Picture, Director
Marriage Story  6 Oscar nominations incl. Best Picture
6 Golden Globes nominations; 1 win (Supporting Actress)
4 Screen Actors Guild nominations; 1 win
8 Critics' Choice nominations; 1 win

Writers Guild, Producers Guild nominations
5 British Film Award (BAFTA) noms incl. Actor, Actress
The Two Popes  3 Oscar nominations incl. Best Actor
4 Golden Globes incl. Picture (Drama); 0 wins
2 Critics' Choice nominations; 0 wins

5 British Film Award (BAFTA) noms incl. Actor, Best British Film